Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts
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Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  297 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Despite her name, Keats Sedlak is the sanest person in her large, nutty family of brilliant eccentrics. Her parents, both brainy academics, are barely capable of looking after themselves, let alone anyone else, and her two uber-intelligent siblings live on their own planets.

At least she can count on one person in her life, her devoted boyfriend Tom. Down-to-earth and lovi...more
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Published September 1st 2011 by 5 Spot
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Keats Sedlak is living a content, comfortable life. She is living in an apartment with her boyfriend of ten years and has a not so challenging job as an office manager. However, she is the oddball in her family, the normal one to say the least. Her brother, Milton, hasn't left their mother's house for two years. Her sister, Hopkins, is a genius, and she is currently saving lives as a neurologist. Her father, also a genius, is a published author and a professor at Harvard. Lastly, her mother driv...more
Heidi Brydon
Some novels will leave you with piles of dirty laundry and unwashed dishes as you ignore everything you should be doing to just keep on reading. This is that kind of novel. I'm a huge fan of this author, and this is one of her best books yet, on a par with the novel that first caught my attention "Same As it Never Was". Her dialogue is so real that you feel more like you are spying on these people rather than reading about them.

Like many, I too have a ridiculous, crazy family. Not cute TV crazy,...more
This was the first book I've ever read by Claire LaZebnik and I really enjoyed it! Keats was a really likable person and you really felt for her when she had to deal with her crazy, dysfunctional family. When I first realized that Tom and Keats had a huge age difference and they had started dating when she was 15, I was a little creeped out, but it really worked with the story. I really hated Hopkins but I loved Milton, so LaZebnik did a great job developing her characters and defining who they...more
Kelly Moran
Keats Sedlak has always felt inferior amid her brilliant family, and the only sane member. With a steady boyfriend and job, she's constantly being called back home to help the family. Now, her mother is filing for divorce and putting the house up for sale, her brother won't leave his bedroom, her genius sister refuses to come home and help, her father's health is slipping, and... she's starting to question her own life choices throughout it all.

In one night, I read this start to finish. I was th...more
i hadn't read a book in almost a month and i'm pretty sure it was because i was waiting for this one to come out. even though somehow i didn't even know it was coming out. maybe i was too excited by epic fail. or maybe my head was in the clouds. either way, i'm so happy right now. i might even shed a tear or two of joy. maybe.

oh and the book is fantastic.

Actually, I rather enjoyed this book. It was well-written, funny, sad, pretty much everything you could want in a contemporary-style book. I knew right from the start that Jacob had a crush on Keats, simply because of the way they interacted and the way she seemed oblivious to his adoration. Later on she admits she's known about it forever, but I never got that feeling. Oh well.

Getting to know her sister Hopkins via phone and e-m...more
Shelley Daugherty
This book was such a pleasant surprise! I don't know that I have ever read quite an honest depiction of a dysfunctional family! (and aren't they all at some point?) I could not put this down.

Keats is basically the child who everyone can count on because she is always there. She stayed close to home, and is not considered a genius, like her sister who is neurologist, or her brother that hasn't left the house in two years (but is oh so smart). Even though her family drives her crazy she is still...more
Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts is a great title. It kind of ends there. The premise is really good - Keats Sedlak is the only average member in her family of intellects and geniuses. She is in a regular relationship with a regular guy, and they've been together for 10 years. Her family is comprised of crazy people who lack social skills. This could have been really funny or really moving or really good. It was none of those things. The chapters were very formulaic - each one ended with a...more
Cocktails and Books
I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me a bit of Running with Scissors--at least the "crazy family" part!

This family has a redeeming member though and that is Keats--the middle child. She is bright, just not a super-genius like the rest of her family members. She, however, has social, organizational and other skills that help her navigate society more successfully.

When her parents decide (rather, her mom decides) to divorce, Keats is the one who has to take care of the family, the house, etc....more
What a neat little book.
A quick read, a funny book, and more than anything- you give a crap about these characters. Not only did I identify with the characters, but I'm convinced someone stepped into my life and somehow thought up Keats, the lead character in the book.
I haven't read many books lately where I give a crap about the characters.
Keats is the underachiever of the family. She's the daughter who just graduated with normal grades, she has a normal job, she has a stable(ie-boring as hell...more
Not bad, not bad.
I particularly liked the intimate part, which came suddenly and unexpectedly but was very well written, and I actually found myself feeling like I was in her shoes, and being very emotionally torn and scared right along with her. I love a book that can pull me in like that. And very few actually ever DO.

The rest was riddled with humor, which I also like.

The storyline kept me wanting to come back for more, even after every night when I put the book down to go to bed...the next da...more
Marguerite Kaye
This was an unexpected pleasure. I picked it up in the library looking for some fluff, and though it was light=-hearted, it was more than that. In lots of ways it reminded me of one of my favourite authors, Ann Tyler. Not quite so well-written (but then hardly anyone writes prose like Tyler does) and not quite so subtle, but it had that same gentle observation, that insightful look into family dynamics that typifies Tyler and which I absolutely love.

From the blurb on this book, I took it to be...more
Danella Shea
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman of independent means and moderate disposition will, upon returning to her ancestral home for a visit of any length of time, suddenly come face-to-face with the realization that her family is totally bat-shit crazy."

As the sane one in my family, I was immediately drawn to the character of Keats. Although she is the 'sane' one in the family, that certainly does not intimate that she isn't severely flawed. However those flaws served to make...more
Mary Gramlich
09/11- Grand Central Publishing - Paperback, 304 pages

Is our personality determined due to birth order?

We all play a specific role in family dynamics whether we admit to it or not. Surviving the landscape of competitive family relationships, overcoming disappointment and jealousy is like walking on a minefield. You are placed by birth order in a position to control, submit, surrender, or dominate and some accept this as destiny while other...more
They say every family has a black sheep, but in some families it's not the black sheep that stands out, it's the white one. Such is the case for Keats Sedlak. She's the only white sheep in the flock. Her family is full of geniuses who tend to be a touch eccentric and/or reclusive. As Keats' father is fond of saying, "It's a fine line between madness and genius."

Keats, named after the poet of the same name, is the middle child of three. She's been in the same relationship with Tom for 10 years....more
Chuck Schwager
I have noted that Claire's other novels echo, in a way, Jane Austin. With this novel she moves on to Anthony Trollope, at least to my inner eye. There is a lot of interior dialogue within Keats as she tried to sort out her life. We become privy to her inner thoughts as well as her actions and this what reminds me so much of Trollope.

As with Trollope, Austen and other greats, it is not the plot that matters. The story is compelling, but what really works on the reader is the subtle psychological...more
Madison Greer
A really good book but it was such a light and quick read... Or maybe the story was that good... Maybe I should rate it 4 stars instead... I enjoyed the story though and the characters, and thought a lot of my own family.
The first thing that caught my attentoin was the title. I laughed out loud and decided sure why not give it a shot. I ended up really liking this book. I was a quick read but good none the less. The lead character really is what does it for me, she's witty and very relatable. Trying to hold her own in a family of not so sympathetic people, she struggles to figure out herself. Thinking that she knows whats right, she has been at odds with her family for years. Life changing events happen and all...more
Tanya Merchant
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway--and the title alone made me eager to read it. I truly enjoyed the story, and found it to be a quick read. I cared about the main character, Keats, and rooted for her to dump her stifling boyfriend, Tom. I especially loved the interaction between Keats and the rest of her "crazy" family. (As a seriously geeky English teacher--British literature--I wholeheartedly appreciate the Sedlak children's names). My only complaint about the novel is that I think it w...more
We all know that some members of your family you would never pick if it was your decision. Keats is always frustrated with her family and feels like an outcast since all the others are so smart. She has been with her boyfriend since she was fifteen and lives a 'comfortable' life. Eventually she realizes that isn't enough for her while helping her family sell their house. I enjoyed the characters and liked how they changed over the course of the story.
I special requested this book from my local library. I read up to page 70 and then skimmed until the last several chapters.

I was highly disappointed in the book. I did not care for the first person narrative. I was irritated by the family in general. The author did not connect me to any of the characters in such a way that I cared about what happened to any of them. And, to me the story was too predictable.

This was a real "miss" for me.
Seeing as my family is entirely dysfunctional, I was thrilled to receive this book as a gift. (From a family member I might add!)

In any case, author LaZebnik takes a while to get going in this book but once she does the subject matter is engrossing. I wouldn't say this is one of my favorites but it was entertaining, and thanks to quirky supporting characters and solid writing I would definitely recommend this book to others!
This book is a high 3 star book nearly bumped to a 4 star.

The beginning of this book was difficult to keep picking up because the characters are so unlikable. But, I think it was pretty cool because they were supposed to be unlikable and it left room for things to develop.
I'm a little surprised I didn't like this book as much as the other books by Claire LaZebnik that I've read. I hate to say this, but the book was easily predictable. Not that I didn't enjoy reading it, but that special spark I've come to expect from her books wasn't there.

I started this book awhile ago and then got super bored with it. I eventually picked it back up, and it was 100 times better. Maybe I put it down at a slow place or something. Anyway, enjoyable, light-hearted read. 3 stars because it bored me at first.
Samantha Hardwick
Great start, hated the ending
This is the first book by Claire LaZebnik I read. And I loved it. The next one I read (Knitting under the Influence) didn't hit it out of the park so much for me as this one did. I just found it zippy with great characters and family tension.
Wasn't impressed with this book. The characters weren't interesting...I feel like the author wants you to dislike them. By the time I was halfway through, I didn't care what happened to the characters...I just wanted to hurry up and finish the book.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were relatable, even when they were being selfish or annoying. The family dynamics were fun too. I enjoyed the fact that Keats, Milton, & the mom were all sort of experiencing similar things.
Another solid performance from Claire LaZebnik. She writes the most realistic dialogue out there. Her characters feel like people you have actually gotten to know. Love her!
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